Question of the Month: How Long Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Last?

Once you are approved for Social Security disability your benefit payments will last until one of three things happen: 
•    You reach retirement age. 
•    Your medical condition improves and you are able to return to work. 
•    You start working and earn too much money.

Retirement Age.
For both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) once you reach your retirement age your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.

Your Medical Condition Improves.
If your medical situation improves to the extent that you are no longer disabled, your Social Security disability payments will end. Social Security periodically assesses SSDI and SSI beneficiaries with what is known as a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) to ascertain whether or not a recipient still qualifies for disability benefits. Typically a CDR will be scheduled every three to seven years. (But due the backlogs at the Social Security Administration (SSA), a CDR may be delayed beyond the scheduled review time.) In most cases benefits are continued after a CDR.

Earning Too Much Money.
SSA says that if you are engaged work (even part-time work) that results in “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA) you are no longer eligible for disability benefits. For 2016 if you earn more than $1,130 per month you will be considered engaged in “Substantial Gainful Activity” and your disability benefits will be withdrawn.  

As is always the case with Social Security rules and regulations, there are exceptions and other, less common, reasons your benefits may be terminated.

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